Terror Of Tiny Town
By Frank Cotolo
If pain and angst and disappointment motivate an artist to express the incurable maladies of human existence through personal statements that stand as testimony of the artist’s perspective, one can easily focus on the foundation of Steve Iannetti’s work, The Terror Of Tiny Town.
Iannetti addresses some common woes of love and attraction in the 13 tracks that make up the CD, appropriately named after a low-budget movie that has become a cult classic. But, like a true child of the streets, he doesn’t whine about any of it. In fact, he almost seems proud that he has weathered all emotional storms.
On the surface (Big Hoop Earrings) or straight from the heart (There Is No God), Iannetti is clearly seeing what dangers and dreams are possible on the levels of Mayan and Brahman life. In Earrings he is awake and aware of how the glitter of feminine adornment can add enough magic to bring him to his knees. In God he takes a stand that any hideous act without reason proves that which may be divine is meaningless when ignoring the value of life. It is far from two-faced; it is the spirit of awareness and the loathing of overstatement, qualities any true artist holds dear and defends with closed fists.
Indeed, all of Iannetti’s music is two-fisted and his character demands a self-strength that boys growing up in the city learn as a means of preservation. If, the artist tells us in God, I can sustain the great blows I am given, how could an almighty power not clench his fists at evil? Iannetti takes some blows, too, and is perfectly able to admit the blame for getting them.
In Just Like You he confesses a penchant for attracting drama in relationships. He is drawn to the adventure of conflict and sings, “Over and over I make the same mistake.” He addresses this as if he likes the behavior as much as he wants to change it. In Self-Afflicted he bears responsibility for his wounds with unusual courage, again showing us he has taken it like a man. And in Problems, he tells the wounded that bad could be worse, with a classic Jerry Lee Lewis-killer attitude and musical style. It is honestly masculine at the peril of political correctness.
Iannetti opens his wounds for the listener and he often plays his guitar as if his fingers are still bleeding from the countless confrontations of love he has experienced and sings about. He sees beauty and ugliness as the same thing, sometimes, and his voice portrays the wonder of it all with dead accuracy. “Like a car wreck on a highway/I just couldn’t look away,” he sings in Face Like A Picasso. It is the perfect blend of cowardice and courageousness that finds Iannetti in a ruthless imbroglio, one that makes his simple and sometimes surprising chord structures add color to his voice.
And, in a strange and comfortable way, Iannetti’s vocals are always laden with a hard echo that richly attributes to the singer’s hard-nosed delivery and puts flesh on the bones of his lyrics. The songs are rarely tender, though, even when he sings of wanting to believe in romance—“I was perfect for about two weeks.” And his timid but affective symbolic approach—“I see red when I see you” is nowhere near the ringing of highbrow poetry but powerful pedestrian prose.
Iannetti lives in a hard world and addresses life with rock-hard qualities that strip his personality of all the sappy elements one might hear from an artist dealing with the kinds of things he does. And that attitude gives this piece of work a stream of truth that can only surface from a musician who can bend a guitar string and his voice with the prowess of a lumberjack’s axe. The Terror Of Tiny Town is, then, on all levels, entertaining, literate and honest—and a unique signature of an artist whose only agenda is to put his cards face up on the table.